Android

Can the Amazon phone prime users from Android and iOS?

Jack Wallen ponders the prospects of the upcoming smartphone to be released by Amazon.

Amazon phone

Amazon has proven that it can be the king of content. With a digital publishing platform unmatched by any other, it's hard to debate that Amazon knows how to drive content into the hands of users. The Kindle took over as device numero uno for ebooks. As the company continues to rule that space, what is the next niche to fill? Why not tackle the one space ruled by two giants of the industry (Apple and Google)? If anyone can cut a swath through that playing field, it's Amazon.

But how? With 81% of mobile devices run by Android and the remainder powered by iOS, what hope does Amazon have to make any serious headway? If even a portion of the rumors are true, they'll have a far better chance than any other entity.

Let's examine the rumors and see what conclusion we can draw.

3D device

This is the mother of all rumors. The Amazon phone is rumored to have an astonishing six cameras -- four of which are dedicated to track movement. That movement tracking results in a three-dimensional interface that's much more than just the iOS Parallax on a Monster drink. A teaser video was released (see below) showing user's reaction to what we assume to be the phone's interface. "I've never seen anything like this," one user proclaims. The video never shows the device, but most are certain it's the Amazon 3D phone.

The software on the device uses Omron's Okao Vision face-sensing technology to track movement of the face. But that 3D interface is much more than a pretty way to look at your screen. The interface will even offer hidden side panels (by tilting your head in a certain way) and other features that no other device can possibly match. The 3D perspective will be incorporated into apps as well -- to the tune of interacting with apps with a simple movement of the head. Imagine being able to use your phone without having to touch it. The implications of a near touchless interface are massive.

Prime Data

With regards to data, the rumors abound. The most intriguing of said rumors surrounds the Prime Data plan. This could take advantage of AT&T's Sponsored Data plan, which would allows users to enjoy various Amazon Prime data sources (TV, Movies, Books, and the soon-to-be released streaming Music) without using a single byte from their data plan. That would certainly be a huge advantage for users who stream a lot of content. As it stands, no other carrier could touch that plan. Period.

Advantage, Amazon.

Modified Android

This isn't as much rumor as it is assumed. Like the Kindle Fire, the Amazon phone will run a modified version of the Android operating system. Unfortunately (and again, similar to the Kindle Fire), you won't have the Google Play Store at your beck and call. Instead, you'll download all apps from the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Hardware

The rumored specs of the phone are slim:

  • 720p 4.7-inch screen
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 2 GB of RAM
  • Six cameras on the device
  • Rear-facing 13 MP camera

The unveiling

Amazon plans on officially announcing the smartphone on June 18th, 2014. The company is taking requests for invitations to the Seattle launch event here.

The conclusion

Can Amazon's phone make any headway into the already flush mobile space? With the combination of a truly unique interface and a Prime Data plan that will allow Amazon Prime users to stream an unlimited amount of Prime content -- my guess is a resounding yes. The data issue alone might well be a game changer for many mobile users who spend a good amount of their time streaming data. With this, Amazon could easily spread their content kingdom from just e-readers to smartphones and tablets.

What do you think? Will the Amazon phone have a chance in a market dominated by two major players? Or will the Amazon phone be nichey, at best, and eventually fall into obscurity? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
NorwickP
NorwickP

I love Amazon. I have Prime, cloud accounts, had a kindle fire, Amazon apps for my phone, etc. However, I would absolutely never ever use an Amazon phone because their only glaring failure, and it's significant, is that every Amazon site, app, and product is accessed through the most annoying and least user-friendly interface possible. Reminds me of when Apple was still clinging to that one-button mouse long after the vast majority of their users were purchasing better ones. Clearly they're behind the times in interface design. Handle a new kindle fire and samsung tablet side by side. Feels like a 10 year difference in development.

Romdude
Romdude

As was already mentioned, no Google play, no thanks. Nevermind the fact that this is more locked down than an iPhone and I prefer my HTC One M7. Nope, my next phone is gonna be HTC One M9 Prime, LG G4 or Moto X + 1.

inet32
inet32

So to get this 3D effect you'd have to move your head around (i.e., it's still a 2D display with eye-sensing technology). That's too much work to watch something; it sounds like a pointless gimmick.  And using head gestures or facial expressions in the UI sounds very niche-y - in how many real-world situations is that useful?

Also, phones are fine for watching the latest viral video on YouTube or showing it to your friends at work,  but for watching a feature-length movie I don't want a 4.7" screen and tinny sound, I want my big screen in my living room and a full-range sound system, so I don't care whether I can access their streaming movie content on my phone.

Not having access to Google Play would be a real deal-killer.

Frankly, a phone with 6 cameras sounds like something only the NSA could love.


Jeff Herter
Jeff Herter

cheaper billing does it for me. 10 bucks a month - I'm in. :)

Alan Portman
Alan Portman

The Amazon phone that only reads Amazon books and only plays Amazon music and that amazon might turn off all of the apps "company x" ever created because they have decided that x should only get half of what they are getting per app now? No thank you.

Eric Millington
Eric Millington

Work with Linux properly! I love my Blackberry but annoys the hell out of me cos it doesn't work properly with Linux.